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13 party-list groups lose Comelec accreditation

AKO Bicol (AKB), which got the highest number of votes in the 2010 party-list elections, has been disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from participating in next year’s elections.

In a six-page en banc resolution, the Comelec noted that AKB was not supposed to have been allowed to run in 2010 since it was accredited as a political party and not as a party-list group.

“It does not mean that if you’re a political party, you can just run in the party-list system without filing a separate petition, which they did not do,” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said.

Even in its constitution and by- laws, the Comelec noted that the group failed to mention the sector its seeks to represent or uplift as mandated under Republic Act 7941, or the party-list law.

The Comelec noted that party-list groups seeking accreditation are required under the law to show proof that it represents the marginalized and the underrepresented; the majority of its members must belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sector; and party-list group must demonstrate that in a conflict of interest, it has chosen or is likely to choose the interest of such sectors.

However, based on the group’s constitution and bylaws, the poll body said it can be concluded that it seeks to uplift and represent the “Bicolanos.”

Considering that Bicolano is an ethnic and linguistic group, the Comelec said the nearest sector that can be associated with are the indigenous peoples.

But, the poll body said Bicolano is not among the 110 ethno-linguistic groups recognized as indigenous peoples by the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

Likewise, the Comelec stressed that Bicolanos, as a group, can hardly be associated with labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, elderly, persons with disabilities (PWDs), women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, professionals and LGBT( lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) sectors.

“This being the case, Ako Bicol must present proof of its marginalization and underrepresentation. Ako Bicol, however, did not present pieces of evidence to prove such marginalization and underrepresentation,” the Comelec’s per curiam resolution said.

“These provinces have their respective district representatives in the Lower House. If this commission were to allow AKB’s continued participation in the party-list system, the commission is condoning the continued and blatant violation of proportional representation…. [They] will have a number of representatives more than the number allowed by the Constitution,” it added.

Furthermore, the Comelec noted that the three nominees of AKB in Congress does not appear to have come from the marginalized sector.

AKB’s first nominee is Christopher Co, a businessman; the second nominee is Rodel Masigan Batocabe, a lawyer, and the third is Alfredo Garbin Jr., also a lawyer.

“As to how lawyers, businessmen and opthalmologists are marginalized and underrepresented is not shown by Ako Bicol and its nominees,” the Comelec said.

AKB was the No. 1 party-list group in the 2010 elections after it garnered the highest number of votes totalling 1,524,000, which earned it three seats in the House of Representatives.

Brillantes also reiterated that the three congressmen of AKB will not be removed from their posts and shall be allowed to finish their term until June 30, 2013.

Aside from AKB, Brillantes disclosed that the poll body has decided to cancel registrations of 12 party-list groups, 11 of which ran in the 2010 polls but failed to earn congressional seats.

They are 1-AANI, 1Guardians Nationalist of the Philippines; First People’s Initiative for Indigent Student Athletes; A Blessed Party-List; Alliance for National Urban Poor Organizations Assembly Inc.; Alliance for Rural Concerns; Association for Righteousness Advocacy on Leadership; Atong Paglaum; Organization of Regional Advocates for Good Governance Onward Nation-Building (Oragon); United Movement Against Drug Foundation Inc.; Yes We Can; and 1 BRO Philippine Guardians Brotherhood Inc. (1-BRO-PGBI).

The group, 1-BRO PGBI, ran in the 2004 party-list elections but also failed to win a seat.

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